Tuesday, 24 May 2016

Just a Few Photos & Exciting Holiday Plans!

It's been a busy time just recently here; we've spent any spare time gardening, tidying and busy with DIY jobs around the house. In between that we've been enjoying the lovely light evenings taking Barry for an extra walk most nights. Barry loves his walks and already gets two or three each day, but we've had some beautiful sunsets just recently and been going out for a final quick stroll around the nearby field at 9pm. I like to make the most of the light evenings and I'm convinced that extra bit of fresh air not long before bed, helps you sleep better. We certainly don't get any complaints from Barry! We've had some amazing skies too though; hailstorms in between sunshine etc. (as the photo below shows... more photos on my Instagram account; @handmade_em).

I love stormy skies

The back garden is looking good; the Alliums are just about to start flowering, the wildflower bed is full of greenery (soon to be full of flowers I hope), the Montana Clematis is going mad and covered in buds and flowers that are just emerging, the lawn is like salad cress and grows so quickly, my runner beans are covered in pretty scarlet flowers and we've already been enjoying dinners with home grown pak choi, peas and mangetout. I love pottering in my garden!

Tasty young Mangetout

I spent all of yesterday afternoon cleaning the conservatory; the windows were filthy and I now realise it's because the conservatory roof is leaking in particularly torrential downpours, which means over this past winter it's been getting quite damp in the room. We're going to have to look at what we're going to do about the roof leaks but in the meantime at least it's all clean again. We popped to Ikea at the weekend and bought two Poang chairs and a footstool, which means I've got somewhere nice to sit in the conservatory and read a book - Barry has already claimed the footstool as his! We bought a lovely corner plant holder too and my handmade Terrarium now has pride of place on the top shelf. I've bought another pretty glass jar to make another terrarium, I'm a little addicted to them now.


And finally I bring you onto my exciting holiday plan news... very exciting actually! Jack and I went on a special holiday 3 years ago to New York with his family for his Dad's 60th and then we flew onto Vancouver, Canada to visit my Aunt and Uncle who live out there. We had an amazing two weeks exploring new places (I completely fell in love with British Columbia) and vowed we'd do more 'exploration adventure' holidays in the future. Jack then told me a week ago that he wanted to take me away for my birthday and that we both deserved a special holiday away having not had one since saving very hard over the last few years for our house deposit. Jack made various suggestions of places we've both said we'd like to go, but in the end we've both decided on..... a California road trip!!

To say I'm excited is an understatement! We're going at the end of August/beginning of September and will be out there on my birthday. This holiday will be very enjoyable for the both of us and we've had great fun so far researching where we'd like to go and what we want to do. One of my dreams for a long time now was to go whale watching in Monterey, California and to know that we're now going to do that is so exciting! One of my favourite animals is the Blue Whale and it would be a dream come true to see just a glimpse of one. We were very lucky to go whale watching in Vancouver three years ago and see 8 Transient Orca, it was fantastic, so I'd love to see some again but this time in a different place. Jack is a car lover so is also very excited for this holiday as we're hiring a Mustang convertible to drive along the Pacific coast highway in California. We fly to San Francisco, have a few days in San Francisco, drive onto Monterey to spend a few days there (including my birthday), then we're spending a night in San Luis Obispo, then a few days in Los Angeles, before finishing up with a few days in Las Vegas and flying home from there. It'll be a tiring but fun holiday and one we're both super excited about.
We've booked our flights and hire car, and saved ourselves some pennies by organising and booking hotel stays ourselves; we're staying in a total of 5 different hotels during our stay and it took us two evenings to decide and book them all. I'm also very pleased to say we've earned over £200 in cash back thanks to Quidco. Anyone who doesn't use cash back sites I really do recommend Quidco! Since moving into our house last year we've earned over £300 in cash back and it's so easy to use and free to register. It's paid for a couple of night's of our hotel stays anyway. I've also been busy sorting out unwanted things in the house to put on eBay to make us a bit of extra spending money hopefully. Every little helps as this won't be a cheap holiday (America is expensive!), but we know we work very hard and deserve to treat ourselves and we also know just how lucky we are that we get to go on a nice holiday like this. I've already ordered a couple of guide books and a book on wildlife too; I'm itching to get tonnes of photos and have been busy practicing with my camera!

We're most excited about;
  • Whale watching in Monterey
  • Seeing the Golden Gate Bridge, San Francisco
  • Driving along the Big Sur
  • Driving through the Californian wine region
  • Walking along Rodeo Drive (I'll try and resist the temptation of quoting my favourite film of all time, Pretty Woman!), Los Angeles
  • Watching the famous fountain display at the Bellagio in Las Vegas
  • Seeing the Grand Canyon, Nevada

I will stop rabbiting on about it for now, I promise! It's still 3 months away after all, but I'm sure lots of photos will appear on here when we're back!

Have a good week everyone

Em x

Handmade Gift; Scrabble Artwork

Just a quick post about a recent project I worked on, making this simple but fun piece of artwork for my brother and his girlfriend as a moving in present. It was very cheap to make and quite easy too, though it was fiddly making sure my angles were nice and as straight as can be. The scrabble pieces I bought from eBay a while ago as I was going to make something similar for our home.

It caused a few light hearted arguments on Saturday over who's name totals the most scrabble points!

Em xx

Wednesday, 18 May 2016

Newly Tiled Conservatory Floor!

How can one be so excited by floor tiles?! I am though! Two weeks' ago my parents came and stayed with us and I put my Dad to work tiling our conservatory floor. Don't feel sorry for him - he loves it! My Dad is a 'can't sit still' kind of man and always has to be doing something, be it walking, DIY, gardening or tasting local real ale! Like most men he's also partial to watching a football game or ten..!

Dad has done a fantastic job anyway and I'm so pleased with the conservatory floor; we went with a nice plain taupe-coloured tile from Wickes and black grout which helps them stand out. Dad's done a lovely diamond pattern too which I think looks fab in our square conservatory. As yet we haven't put anything back in the conservatory as I need to wash down all the windows and frames first. Jack was such a help to Dad too :-)

Monday, 16 May 2016

Hen Do & Weekend With Jack's Parents

Morning All! I hope everyone is well and that you had a nice weekend.

Just a quick update on Barry for those wondering how the poorly patient is, he's doing much better. He has been home from the Vets for a week now and for the most part has been fine. There has been the odd bout of vomiting but nothing to be concerned about and he's getting his appetite back which is a big relief (he's so skinny!). He seems quiet still but I'm hoping that by the end of this week he'll be back to his normal bouncy self. Fingers crossed we don't have another flare up for a while.. He's starting to play with his toys again which is a very positive sign, we just want him back to normal!

On the rare occasions Barry wanders off and lets me out of his sight, he can be found sunbathing!

Making friends with Harvey the gorgeous Sausage Dog on Sunday! First time that Barry has met a dog smaller than him!

We headed back to Cambridgeshire for the weekend to spend some time with Jack's parents and for my best friend's Hen Do which was great fun, I think Jess really enjoyed herself. We had a lovely meal out in Browns in Cambridge followed by some drinks in a bar. I had a really nice time and it was great to see Jess having fun before her big day in two weeks' time! I had organised goodie bags for everyone attending the hen do and I had great fun buying bits and putting them all together. The other girls generously contributed and the glow stick bracelets and personalised badges proved the biggest hits. I sorted balloons too and Jess' lovely mother in law to be, Rene, made some beautiful flower arrangements for the table too - lots of the things Jess loves to make it special for her. The wedding is fast approaching and I know she's beginning to get quite nervous and stressed, it's also hard without her Mum here who suddenly passed away just before Christmas. So my intent is to make sure my bestie is well looked after and relaxed!

Hen Do Goodie Bags

Some of the bag's contents

Beautiful flower arrangement!

Jess and I

It was lovely spending some time with Jack's parents too. They own a windmill that sits on their property and it was National Mills Weekend so it was open to the public. It was great to see lots of people coming to visit the mill to find out about its history and have a nose inside. If anyone finds it of interest, here's a couple of website links:

Cattell's Mill Website: http://www.windmillweb.net/

National Mills Weekend: http://www.nationalmillsweekend.co.uk/pages_wind/willingham.htm

We've got a quieter week ahead of us which I'm relieved about as both Jack and I are tired after lots of travelling just recently. My brother is staying tonight as he's visiting a client near Reading tomorrow so that will be nice. They completed on their house purchase last Thursday so I'm looking forward to hearing all about their new home, with a possible visit planned for this coming weekend.

Other than that we will be making the most of pottering around in the garden and getting on with some DIY jobs in the house. I'm also dragging Jack out shopping on Saturday as he needs a suit for the wedding, so I think we'll head to Reading where there are plenty of shops.

Finally, just a few photos from my walk around Willingham while at Jack's Parents, everywhere looks so pretty even though everywhere stinks of pollen!!

Apple blossom

Lilac I believe? Please do correct me if I'm wrong!

Forget Me Nots back in our garden at home

Have a good week everyone!

Em x

Monday, 9 May 2016

Poorly Pup (Again)

Barry has been a very poorly boy again and it's been such a worry. It was only mid-March when he last spent three days at the vets due to sickness and tummy upset and it's now early May and we're back again with a similar thing :-( Sorry if this post is a little graphic to read!

Visiting Barry at the Vets yesterday in an attempt to persuade him to eat

It started on Thursday afternoon with almost constant sickness and for the first time ever Barry refused to eat any food. This is very out of the ordinary for him, especially when he was only being offered plain boiled chicken (because of the sickness) and usually he eats this with glee. He didn't eat anything at all that night and started to look very sorry for himself by the next morning after a night of sickness too. He still wouldn't eat the next morning and when diarrhoea started which was mainly just blood I got very concerned and took him straight to the vets (it was very startling and scary to see). The vet couldn't feel any obstructions and so it was put down to severe gastroenteritis like last time, only this time called Haemorrhagic Gastroenteritis because of the blood. The vet said that fresh blood in stools isn't too worrying compared with 'coffee granules' dark blood which pinpoints problems much higher up in the digestive system but it was advised he stayed in to get him straight onto fluids and medicine to try and get him feeling better. Off he went out the back with the vet and they rang later to say that he was bright, but still some sickness and diarrhoea and therefore they wanted to keep him in overnight to keep him on the drip. I rang a few times the next day and it was the same story, though the sickness had finally stopped. On Sunday morning the vet rang and said he was much brighter but still not eating and therefore they asked us to come in and try and persuade Barry to eat.

Barry was very happy to see us and we managed to persuade him to eat a tiny amount of chicken which at least was something. Saying goodbye to him again was horrible and he howled and cried. They managed to get him to eat a small amount more yesterday afternoon and the vet rang this morning to say that it had successfully stayed down which is good. He isn't interested in eating again this morning but the vet said she's happy for Barry to come home in the hope that he'll start eating at home. So I'm off shortly to go and pick him up and I can't wait to have him home, we've really missed him this weekend.

As to the cause of his tummy troubles, it's very hard to pinpoint it as frustrating as that is. The vet says he obviously has a very sensitive digestive system and she herself has terriers and that they are more susceptible to sensitivities and are also extremely fussy (which I can vouch for with Barry!). Barry is already on a very good food (Arden Grange) and has been on that for 4 months now having changed it from James Wellbeloved a while ago to try and help his sensitivities to an even better hypo-allergenic food. The vets advised we stay on Arden Grange for now to see how he gets on and then we'll have to consider what to try next if not. Deary me, they're such a worry! I'm just glad he's ok and hope he'll be much better soon and not have anymore flare ups for a while, it's horrible seeing him so poorly.

In other news (no sickness or other messy stuff!), my parents arrived yesterday to spend a few days with us. Dad has got stuck straight into the tiling here at our house, with Jack's help. Jack and I madly spent Friday evening clearing the conservatory and ripping up the old laminate wood flooring as well as moving items off of the kitchen worktops ready for Dad to tile the conservatory floor and the kitchen walls. My parents are staying with us until tomorrow so hopefully the tiling will get finished, there may just be some grouting for Jack and I to do. I certainly can't wait to see the finished look in both rooms. I cooked a barbeque yesterday with Jack's help and it was very tasty. I made a tasty salad too and we of course had to have corn on the cob on the BBQ as that's my favourite.

Quickly took a photo last night; Dad & Jack have made a good start on our new kitchen tiles!

It was lovely spending the day in the garden with Mum while the boys were busy tiling. The tortoises have spent all weekend in their run and are very happy in their outdoor home. We just missed having Barry running around too.

We had to share our strawberries with the tortoises yesterday! They're very dusty in this photo as they've been busy digging into the little 'cave' I made them in their run

I hope you all had a lovely weekend and enjoyed the hot sunny weather; I can't wait to get my boy home, spend the afternoon with him snuggled up on my lap while I read your blog posts!

Have a great week all!

Em x

Tuesday, 3 May 2016

April Review

How quickly the months seem to be flying past! I can't believe April has been and gone and what a busy month it was for us. We had lots of fun despite the weather being a bit cooler than normal and it was a month of getting on with things in the garden too.

Here are a few of my April highlights;

1. Dog Walking Holiday - Wye Valley, Wales
We had an amazing time in Wales; our first trip here and what a beautiful place it is. We loved the walks, the scenery, the food and having Barry by our side!

2. Spending time in the garden
Our back garden is really starting to take shape now; the shed is complete, I'm busy working on the flower beds to add a variety of colour to the garden and we're currently in the process of finishing off the tortoise's run and building a raised veg bed. I love pottering around the garden!

3. Bank Holiday Weekend in Norfolk
We had a lovely time visiting my family and running along the beach at Overstrand!

4. Spending time with family
It was lovely visiting Nan and Syd earlier in the month too and seeing my parents this last weekend

Simon, Syd, Jenna, Me, Jack and Nan and a huge roast dinner!

Jenna, Mum and I

May is looking like another busy month; my best friend Jess gets married at the end of the month and there's lots of prep and fun to come before then. Jack and I also want to try and get lots more gardening and decorating done at home. We're hoping for a good month of sunshine as I'm sure everyone is, though I'm not looking forward to the high pollen levels that are just around the corner!

What plans do you have for May?

Em x

Lovely Bank Holiday Weekend With Family

Morning all, I hope you've enjoyed a lovely bank holiday weekend where I think the weather was pretty good considering it was a bank holiday and they can be a total wash-out.

Beautiful sunshine on Overstrand Beach, Norfolk

We loaded up the car on Friday afternoon and set off to North Norfolk to spend the weekend with my parents, brother and his partner. Usually the car journey from home to Overstrand is around four hours, but it took us well over five hours due to the volume of bank holiday traffic on the roads. I think Jack (who was driving) was rather frustrated with the constant crawling towards the end, but we did eventually reach Cromer where we picked up fish and chips for everyone from Mary Jane's (best fish and chip shop ever!) and took it back to Mum and Dad's where we ate it alongside champagne (we're not posh people, I think Mum and Dad were just very pleased to have their 'babies' home so it called for a celebration!). My brother Simon and his partner Jenna had arrived prior to us so it was lovely to catch up with them too and hear all their good news about the house they're in the process of buying. They are first time buyers so all the stress and excitement is new to them, but so far the buying process seems to be going smoothly.

We spent Friday evening having a good catch up and then we helped my parents with various jobs on Saturday to help them get ready for the garden party they had planned for Sunday. The weather on Saturday and Sunday was amazing and we can't believe how lucky we were! We all had pink faces by the end of Saturday where we'd caught the sun and it was so nice to feel warmth instead of an icy breeze. My parent's garden is so pretty at the moment; full of bluebells, tulips, blossoms, Camellias and Rhododendrons too. Jenna and I took Barry for a walk on the beach in the afternoon and it was beautiful down there and great to see lots of people enjoying the beach and sunshine. We spent Saturday evening having competitions with the Shuffleboard. I'm not sure if any of you will have heard of it, but we're all rather addicted to it now and it's great fun to play! It's a wooden table game where you push wooden discs down it and the aim is to get them through the different holes at the end of the board. I'm not too good at it but then I'm not very good at many games (I'm a sore loser!)

Sunbathing Barry - his fur is growing back slowly but surely

Shuffleboard in the sunshine

Beautiful colours in Mum and Dad's garden

The weather on Sunday was even better than Saturday and it made the party extra special for my parents. They had invited a big group of friends to come for a bbq for the afternoon and I think they all had a great time. I helped Mum with the food and we put on quite a spread. Mum's lovely friends Annie and Jenny made amazing desserts too which went down very well along with Dad's home brewed beer. Their close friend Hugh even played a few songs on his guitar including one he used to sing to me when I was very little called "The baby went down the plug'ole", look it up, very funny (lyrics here, but there are different versions and no-one is sure of who wrote it originally)! I'm glad that Mum and Dad had such a nice time with their friends and that the weather was kind to us all too. Barry was such a good boy around all the people at the party and he was very popular.

It clouded over and got a bit chilly as 6pm approached

Jack and I got up nice and early on Monday morning to take Barry for a final walk along the beach. It was low tide so you can get around the ends of the groynes rather than having to climb over them nearer the back of the beach. A fairly deep pool is always left at the end of the groyne though and Barry completely mis-judged this and ended up disappearing right under the water much to his surprise! Luckily he loves water and is a good swimmer and shook himself off before setting off again down the beach at 100mph! We then said our goodbyes to my parents, Simon and Jenna and endured another 5+ hour journey home (this time I gave Jack a rest and I drove). We eventually made it home all very weary. Sadly Jack had to go into work for a few hours so I just snoozed on the sofa in between putting on a few washes. We have a very tired pooch after all the playing, beach exploring and attention this weekend and Barry looked mighty pleased last night when we said good night and went to bed, I think Barry was asleep before we even reached the top of the stairs!

We've got a busy week ahead of us in terms of jobs to do around the house; I emptied the loft of nearly all of its contents the other weekend in order to sort through everything, throw things, bag things up for charity shops and sell other things on EBay. I've kept it all in the guest bedroom and slowly been sorting through it but now my parents are coming to stay with us this weekend I had better get a move on and finish sorting it. We've laid more loft boards in the loft so you can now walk around more easily up there and as I'm slightly obsessed with being organised, I don't want anything to just be thrown back up there and instead want to know what is in each box. My parents are coming to stay this weekend for a few days as my Dad is kindly tiling our kitchen splash back area and also tiling the conservatory floor. So he'll have plenty to do but have Jack's help too. The weather looks good this week so I'll be able to move my plants out of the conservatory too, more space again!

Finally, just a photo of my two very happy tortoises on waking up this morning to find a whole windowsill box full of home grown lettuce for them to devour! I've tried to leave it growing as long as possible and had better get some more planted ready - I'd quite like to enjoy some too, but it is a lovely treat for Squirt and Lola!

Have a good week everyone!

Em x